Savvy Money: Sign up to a gym contract as supple as you aim to be

If your resolution to fight the flab weakens, the only pounds you lose may be in health club bills

Did you make some New Year's resolutions this year? Many of us vow to eat more healthily, spend less and exercise more – at least for a few weeks! So if you're thinking of signing up with your local gym to improve your fitness, make sure you check the contract before you join.

Until fairly recently, gyms were notorious for having contracts that even the most supple of gymnasts would struggle to wriggle out of.

But a clampdown by the Office of Fair Trading has made contracts more user-friendly. However, you can still be caught out if you don't know what to look for.

Cooling-off period

Check that you will get a seven-day cooling-off period (and make sure this is in writing or in the contract). If there isn't one, don't sign up unless you are 100% happy with your decision.

Most privately-run gyms cost a minimum of £30 a month, and you could pay over £80 a month if you want to be able to use all the gyms in the network. If you change your mind within the seven days, you can cancel the contract without paying any fees, as long as you haven't used the gym.

Contract length

Gym contracts shouldn't be for more than 12 months or, if they are, you should be able to cancel the contract after the first 12 months with 30 days' notice. Most gyms offer rolling monthly contracts as an alternative (although they usually cost more).

If you sign up to a 12-month contract, you can generally cancel in the first year only if your circumstances change (loss of job, ill health etc), or if, for example, the gym increases its prices significantly.

Cancelling your contract

You will usually have to give 30 days' notice if you want to cancel your contract, whether it is for annual membership or on a rolling monthly basis.

But if you don't cancel your annual contract at the right time, you may find you pay an extra month's membership, as some gyms will cancel your membership from the first day of the month only after they get your cancellation notice.

You should always cancel a contract in writing (unless the gym asks you to cancel by a different method) and send the letter by recorded delivery.

If you're asked to cancel in person or over the phone, send an email or letter to confirm.

Change of circumstances

If you lose your job, move house, are ill, become pregnant or suffer severe financial hardship, you should be able to cancel a 12-month contract early. But check what you have to do.

For example, you will usually have to provide a doctor's note if you are ill or evidence that you have moved house, and most gyms will simply transfer your membership if one of their branches is within ten miles of your new home.

Closure of facilities

If the gym no longer offers the facilities you signed up for, there is no guarantee you will be able to cancel your membership. So if you are thinking of joining a gym because it does early-morning classes, for example, or because it has a crèche, it is worth asking if you can cancel your membership if these facilities are no longer offered (and get confirmation in writing).

I have looked at a couple of contracts that say the gym doesn't have to provide the services at a particular time and that you would be able to get out of your contract only if the gym you've signed up for closed for more than 30 days at a time for repairs or refurbishment.

Do you need to join a gym?

Of course, you may not need to join a private gym at all. Start by seeing what your local council offers. You may not get a gleaming reception area or fluffy towels, but it could be more budget-friendly. Otherwise, there are pay-as-you-go options such as PureGym, open 24/7, where you can buy a day pass or pay per month, or PayasUgym, which has about 1,500 gyms in its network, where you can buy day, bundled or monthly passes.

Verdict

Think carefully before signing up for a 12-month gym contract as many people stop going to the gym after a few months. Make sure you know when you can cancel, and check out non-contract alternatives.

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Associate CXL Consultant

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

    Associate CXL Consultant

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

    Financial Planning Manager, Qual Accountant, £380

    £300 - £380 per day: Orgtel: Financial Planning Manager, Banking , London, £30...

    Business Analyst - Financial Services, Trading Systems, Agile

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fina...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil